Motivation of the Highly Specialised Employee

Philip Frederik Schrøder

Student thesis: Master thesis


With today’s society having evolved from an industrial society to a knowledge society, a new type of employee has become known to the world, the knowledge worker. These employees are highly specialised within their respective fields and due to their high level of skill, the employees are greatly valued by companies to whom the knowledge workers aren’t afraid to make demands and require specific working conditions because they are aware of their high value to their employers. In order to retain these highly specialised employees, it’s crucial to analyse what exactly motivates this type of employees. The purpose of this master thesis is to examine what in particular motivates highly specialised employees while focusing exclusively on the importance of motivational factors that are intrinsically based. With the insight this thesis may contribute with, it will hopefully facilitate the further development of successfully tailored leadership strategies focusing on how to effectively motivate highly specialised employees. With the aid of Helle Hedegaard Hein’s motivational theory describing 4 archetypes of highly specialised creative employees, I was able to conduct interviews with 4 engineers and 1 CEO, all from the same company. My questions for the employed engineers were based on the motivational profile of the “Primadonna-archetype” with the purpose of revealing the current intrinsic motivational needs of the highly specialised employee; The CEO was interviewed with the purpose of gaining insight on a manager’s own understanding of “how to intrinsically motivate the highly specialised employee” but through questions revealing the CEO’s current impressions without existing personal knowledge of Hein’s theoretic framework. This would allow a comparison of the CEO’s understanding of the employees’ behavioral needs (representing managers’ understanding in general) with their actual needs, discovered earlier through my employee interviews. In conclusion, highly specialised employees don’t exclusively fit under one archetype representing certain motivational needs. They expressed motivational needs that were fundamentally Primadonnarelated but also showed certain needs related to a second archetype, the “introverted performance tripper”. The CEO’s understanding of the employees’ motivational needs were broad but lacked the detailed distinction of behavioral needs given by Hein’s archetypes from which managers would benefit.

EducationsMSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages81